Brad & Jenny Represent Fil-Ams in Survivor
Momar G. Visaya/Asianjournal.com
SURVIVOR host Jeff Probst has called it as "a social experiment on a level we've never done before."
He is talking about the newest and much-talked about season of Survivor. It was shot earlier this summer on the Cook Islands, somewhere in the South Pacific.
What makes this season different from the show's previous incarnations is the fact that there are 20 "castaways" or contestants vying for the million-dollar prize and they were divided into four teams, or in Survivor parlance, "tribes." Previous seasons have seen Survivor pit the men against the women or the young versus the old.
This season, it's going to be white/Caucasian vs. African-American vs. Hispanic vs. Asian-American.
Representing the Asian-American tribe are two Filipino-Americans: Brad Virata and Jenny Guzon-Bae. They are joined a 2 South Koreans and a Vietnamese.
Guzon-Bae hopes that the Filipino-American community will be behind her. "If I win, I think the Filipino community will be very proud of me. They will be totally supportive and proud of me. I hope I make them proud," she said.
Some call the casting a bit racy, others call it racist and quite a number have called it as a mere publicity stunt meant to attract new viewers.
Probst, however, is hopeful.
In a video sent by a CBS executive to the Asian Journal, the host is quoted saying, "This is definitely going to be a unique Survivor."
For one, the mere composition alone is unique. "This is the most racially-diverse group that has ever been on Survivor," castaway Rebecca Borman said in the video interview.
Vietnamese Anh-Tuan Bui said, "There's a balance of people here, not just the token Asians, not just the token black people."
"Growing up as a minority has been a huge motivating force. When I was a child, I didn't see a lot of people who looked like me. I like to move beyond that. I'd like to change America's perception of my ethnicity," said lawyer Yul Kwon, one of the two South Koreans in the game.
J.P. Calderon, a professional volleyball player is proud of his Hispanic heritage because it "gives me character and it has helped me with my upbringing."
One of the castaways, Jonathan Penner, describe the casting of different races as "very gutsy" and added, "I think it's gonna be very interesting but I think it is potentially dangerous."
"We all here feel the pressure to represent. That means being able to represent us, our people, the African-American culture to do well in these events," said Stephannie Favor.
Her sentiments are echoed by her tribe-mate, make-up artist Rebecca Borman, who said, "It is hard enough down here to just survive and to have to bring the race issue into it just makes it much harder."
For one castaway, it's not about winning it for his race, as he claims. Or is it?
"We're not winning this for the white race, that's not our mentality. Maybe some of the other tribes are thinking that for their own personal ethnicity. I like my team and I want to win for our team, and our tribe," copier salesman Adam Gentry said.
Mark Burnett, the show's Executive Producer is confident that the castaways know that this is still a game, just like the previous seasons. "All 20 of them realize that they need to integrate and work across those ethnic group lines to win the game. They need to get all the votes to win," he said.
"I think the audience is gonna have different reactions. I am sure there are going to be some audience members who will root based on ethnicity. I think that's a natural extension. But I think ultimately, you're gonna root based on the same thing you always do: who do I like? That's not gonna change because we have more ethnic diversity," Probst added.
Publicity stunt or not, this move by the people behind Survivor has succeeded in making people talk about the show, which is scheduled to premiere in two weeks. (AJ)http://www.asianjournal.com/?c=124&a=15581